The strong pandemic-related notebook momentum seen at the end of Q1 2020 carried on into Q2, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.
Notebooks continued to see extraordinary growth across Western Europe’s largest distributors, with volumes up +55% in Q2 2020 compared to the same period last year. The Q2 rise was driven by Q1 order fulfilment as product supply improved, but also by newly received orders as demand for remote-working and -learning devices remained high in a quarter which began in a time of strict lockdowns and ended with the easing of the most restrictive measures. Notebook sales were strong across both the commercial and consumer segments, although commercial sales showed the stronger performance: business-targeted notebooks were up by +70.4% year-on-year while consumer systems grew by +38%.
The picture was entirely different for desktops: volumes in the category dropped by -27.8% year-on-year in Q2 2020, with commercial systems down -31.6% and consumer products -17.5%. OEMs across all Western European countries saw demand for the category dive, and distributors have been voicing strong concerns about the resulting rise in stock levels. Clearly, the pandemic has acted as an accelerator of the move towards mobile systems at the expense of stationary products. It should be noted, however, that commercial desktops faced a difficult year-on-year comparison in Q2 2020, with +17% growth one year ago as organisations prepared to migrate to Windows 10.
Looking at channel sales, consumer channels saw a dip in share of sales to retail stores following pandemic-related shop closures in March, to the benefit of sales to consumer etailers. Volumes of business-targeted notebooks to SMB resellers dropped sequentially in April while sales to consumer etail saw a rise, suggesting that some smaller companies moved to buy online when a number of small and medium resellers became inactive during the peak of the crisis.
“The numbers are consistent with the challenges posed by the pandemic - including changes in demand and purchasing behaviour, the closing of shops, companies becoming temporarily inactive, and offices across the continent going remote”, said Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at CONTEXT. “Notebooks have proved to be the form factor of choice; other IT equipment geared to facilitate remote working and homeschooling has also done well during the crisis, including monitors, accessories and communications software.”
“Moving into Q3 2020, portable demand is expected to stay healthy in a number of segments.There is however, a high level of uncertainty regarding the impact of the crisis on Western European economies, meaning that a lot of organisations will be very cautious when it comes to IT spending over the next few months”, she concludes.